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Focus: Business in Nigeria and Sustainability

Managing Director of Godrej Nigeria Mr Sanjiv Jetly is an experienced leader with a proven record in business development, operational management and implementing significant changes in diverse cultural environments. He is specialized in strategic business management with extensive focus on growth strategy, implementation brilliance and return to profitability. A Godrej Leadership Forum member, with 26 years of global experience in leading FMCG organisation, he is a dynamic and commercially astute leader.

Godrej is a 118 years young company. Established in 1897, the Godrej Group has its roots in India’s Independence and Swadeshi movement. Our founder, Ardeshir Godrej, lawyer-turned-serial entrepreneur failed with a few ventures, before he struck gold with a locks business.

Today, the Group enjoys the patronage of 1.1 billion consumers globally across consumer goods, real estate, appliances, agriculture and many other businesses. Its geographical footprint extends beyond Earth as its engines now power many of India’s space missions. With revenue of over USD 4.1 billion, the company is growing fast and has exciting as well as ambitious aspirations. Godrej’s vision for 2020 is to be 10 times the size it was in 2010

 

Business operations in Nigeria

Doing business in Nigeria has been a great experience for the company.

“Nigeria has a much better social and business environment than is perceived from outside. It is surprising that as compared to the information available outside the country, people are very friendly and hospitable,” Mr Sanjiv said.

The company clearly understands that installing confidence about the company in the minds of the people is very important.  Confidence creates an affinity for your  brands and also builds a lasting relationship between the company and the people.

“Another great thing about Nigeria is that trade here is lively. This is not surprising because in terms of size, population and attitude to innovations, Nigeria, is one of the few countries that has it all. However, you have to understand the rules of the game and the rules and laws of the country”, he said.

 

The role of consumers to Godrej

Like most companies, Mr Sanjiv mentioned that Godrej has learnt about its consumers. “If our products are bad or is too expensive, they will not buy, given that Godrej is a consumer goods company, it makes more sense to focus the company’s attention on changing the behavior of its customers, who account for the majority of the company’s environmental footprint. We are a company focused on the consumer so we have a lot to do there”, he said.

He also believes that the world is gradually approaching an era where consumers will stop buying products from companies that are not seen as behaving responsibly. “Companies should use this knowledge to act as a force for good, become part of the responsible movement. This is not utopia, it is enlightened self-interest,” he reiterated.

“We are working to ensure that our employees are happy to work for an organization that is seen to be making a difference. In any company, you have to go back to what drives people. Making more money or being bigger means less and less, that, to us, is rewarding,” he said.

 

Longterm business sustainability and its implications for business

He points out that there is often little motivation to take on the challenge of acculturating long-term business sustainability and that most business leaders are fixated at the moment with getting through the current economic turmoil.

“Long-term sustainability should be central to a business’ strategic development process. Companies should ensure their sustainability teams are fully integrated into the strategy development process, rather than operating in a vacuum”.

He concludes that businesses should be forward-thinking so that they can become leaders when new trends appear and they should revise and review their plans regularly. This helps business leaders proactively identify potential long-term trends and issues.

 

Nigeria’s current economic recession

While some people worry that the pace of change is far too slow to address the scale of problems that Nigeria is currently facing, Mr. Sanjiv cautions against pessimism and suggests that the foundations for transformation are being put in place and they are being put in place to ensure sustainability.

He also believes that the government will take actions that that are sufficient enough to address the problems explaining that other countries have been through what the country is going through and have worked their way out of it successfully.